In the latest installment of the Marvel Universe’s made-for-streaming series adaptations, Loki is perhaps the most anticipated featuring the Avengers’ villain/hero viewers most loved to hate…and then love again.
The series was kept tightly sealed with very few details emerging from the studio until its release earlier this month which promised viewers an exciting and surprising show. But did it live up to the hype? The Conservative Critic finds out by asking: Is it Entertaining? Does it have artistic/intellectual value and finally is it liberal propaganda?
The Conservative Critic Meter Check: Loki
Overall Rating: Not Great
Let me start by saying how much I love Marvel movies and the whole Avengers franchise. I love the whole superhero genre (even though DC really suffers in comparison other than the older-school Batman installments and that one Wonder Woman but that’s for another day). Specifically, Loki is one of my all-time favorite superhero characters. He’s funny, he’s whimsical, he’s ideological, he’s a successful schemer, and I like the color green. He tops my list. So viewing Loki the series, I went in with a lot of foundational bias.
Additionally, I waited to review Loki until after episode 2 because I do think a series needs a little space to grow. I will return to the subject for an update after the conclusions.
Following in the footsteps of the very boring, briefly okay then predictable WandaVision and the so-boring-I-could-not-even-finish-to-review, Falcon and Winter Soldier, Loki just does not do anything to impress. Taking a character with more charisma and showmanship than any other in the franchise and watering him down with bureaucracy and prose is a choice only studio executives as far up their own rear as Disney could possibly make.
With no apparent agenda this series is not really watchable so far. It’s possible the series will build but for now it’s not really worth the 45 minutes.
Spoilers of the Avengers stories ahead
Is it Entertaining?
The biggest drag on the show’s rating is how boring it really is. For some inexplicable reason, the geniuses at Disney/Marvel decided to take a concept as compelling as the God of Mischief traveling through time and bury it in the framework of an exhaustive bureaucracy. Because what says “superhero villain fun times” like an acronymized reality reminiscent of the big gray buildings which plague the nation’s capital (IRS, FCC, CFPB, CPSC, WTF)?
The first episode is truly mind-numbing. It is Loki reviewing events which any casual viewer of the Avengers franchise was already well aware of. We see Tom Hiddleston as Loki dressed drably in his prison-esque jumpsuit waiting in various lines and then sitting in a singular room opposite Owen Wilson (Night at the Museum, Wedding Crashers) as his assigned field agent/psycho-therapist watching images of the life the viewer already knows has played out since the moment he grabbed the tesseract and traveled back in time.
A decent writer knows his audience and a decent writer knows that anyone sitting down to watch Loki does not need to be spoon fed the exposition. It’s really okay to just allow the story to play out and naturally explain itself to viewers who may not have seen the films leading up to the series.
The next episode isn’t much better with most of it being spent literally reading files and still just waxing poetically inside the bureaucratic building. When they do finally leave we are treated to the sights of a 1980s renaissance festival but then immediately shoved behind a dark tent so now it’s just a dark tent. The climax is literally just the main characters walking around a grocery store – okay there is a big dramatic thing happening at the grocery store – but still come on. Lame.
Does it have intellectual/artistic value?
Rating: Well Done
Marvel has no shortage of cash flow and with that money comes a well made show. The graphics match the movies, the fight choreo (limited as it is used) is well orchestrated and the set design is spot on (for the lame thing they’re trying to achieve). Tom Hiddleston delivers on a quieter and more thoughtful Loki even if the idea of a quieter Loki is incredibly dull. Owen Wilson needs more room to breathe and build his character out. He does a good job being vaguely likable and quippy but so far the character, Mobius, isn’t made up of many parts.
The series also features GuGu MBatha-Raw (Belle, Beyond the Lights) as Ravonna Renslayer who is some sort of Director of Programming type at the TVA (Time Variance Authority). While the actress is well known and very talented, the character is so far undeveloped and barely exists within the story. So who knows what may come for Mbatha-Raw?
The TVA itself is intended to be comical and in the structure that is intended, it does its job. It makes fun of how boring and tedious bureaucrats and bureaucracies generally can be. It’s a commentary on the most powerful bodies in the real world (NSA, FBI, ATF, DEA, etc) being full of perfunctory, passionless rule followers who exist within an expansive web of procedures and jurisdictional boundaries. As a concept it’s compelling. Does it belong in a super villain show? Another question entirely.
Is it liberal propaganda?
Rating: Agenda Free
The plot revolves around a series of natural disasters in the future which treads on climate change for me and completely underestimates the capabilities of human innovation which is a very liberal ideology. However, it also strongly mocks federal agents which is for sure a conservative thing to do. In the end it’s a bit of a wash with no true agenda to be found.
So far Loki is extremely boring and centered around a very ideological joke about bureaucrats running the world and the power we think we have being meaningless. Loki is one of the most dynamic characters in the MCU and truly deserved a lot more than this eyelid heavying snooze fest.
The Conservative Critic will post an update once the season concludes.